Welcome to MSF Field Research


MSF is known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience. It has published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and they have often changed clinical practice and been used for humanitarian advocacy. These articles are available for free, in full text - no login required. We sincerely thank the publishers for their permission to archive on this site.


Published Research and Commentary
Conference Abstracts
Programme Descriptions
Research Resources


  • Cost-effectiveness of new MDR-TB regimens: study protocol for the TB-PRACTECAL economic evaluation substudy.

    Sweeney, S; Gomez, G; Kitson, N; Sinha, A; Yatskevich, N; Staples, S; Moodliar, R; Motlhako, S; Maloma, M; Rassool, M; et al. (BMJ Publishing Group, 2020-10-10)
    Introduction: Current treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are long, poorly tolerated and have poor outcomes. Furthermore, the costs of treating MDR-TB are much greater than those for treating drug-susceptible TB, both for health service and patient-incurred costs. Urgent action is needed to identify short, effective, tolerable and cheaper treatments for people with both quinolone-susceptible and quinolone-resistant MDR-TB. We present the protocol for an economic evaluation (PRACTECAL-EE substudy) alongside an ongoing clinical trial (TB-PRACTECAL) aiming to assess the costs to patients and providers of new regimens, as well as their cost-effectiveness and impact on participant poverty levels. This substudy is based on data from the three countries participating in the main trial. Methods and analysis: Primary cost data will be collected from the provider and patient perspectives, following economic best practice. We will estimate the probability that new MDR-TB regimens containing bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid are cost-effective from a societal perspective as compared with the standard of care for MDR-TB patients in Uzbekistan, South Africa and Belarus. Analysis uses a Markov model populated with primary cost and outcome data collected at each study site. We will also estimate the impact of new regimens on prevalence of catastrophic patient costs due to TB. Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval has been obtained from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Médecins Sans Frontières. Local ethical approval will be sought in each study site. The results of the economic evaluation will be shared with the country health authorities and published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Extended use or reuse of single-use surgical masks and filtering face-piece respirators during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: A rapid systematic review.

    Toomey, E; Conway, Y; Burton, C; Smith, S; Smalle, M; Chan, X; Adisesh, A; Tanveer, S; Ross, L; Thomson, I; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2020-10-08)
    Background: Shortages of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have led to the extended use or reuse of single-use respirators and surgical masks by frontline healthcare workers. The evidence base underpinning such practices warrants examination. Objectives: To synthesize current guidance and systematic review evidence on extended use, reuse, or reprocessing of single-use surgical masks or filtering face-piece respirators. Data sources: We used the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Public Health England websites to identify guidance. We used Medline, PubMed, Epistemonikos, Cochrane Database, and preprint servers for systematic reviews. Methods: Two reviewers conducted screening and data extraction. The quality of included systematic reviews was appraised using AMSTAR-2. Findings were narratively synthesized. Results: In total, 6 guidance documents were identified. Levels of detail and consistency across documents varied. They included 4 high-quality systematic reviews: 3 focused on reprocessing (decontamination) of N95 respirators and 1 focused on reprocessing of surgical masks. Vaporized hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation were highlighted as the most promising reprocessing methods, but evidence on the relative efficacy and safety of different methods was limited. We found no well-established methods for reprocessing respirators at scale. Conclusions: Evidence on the impact of extended use and reuse of surgical masks and respirators is limited, and gaps and inconsistencies exist in current guidance. Where extended use or reuse is being practiced, healthcare organizations should ensure that policies and systems are in place to ensure these practices are carried out safely and in line with available guidance.
  • Impact of the implementation of new guidelines on the management of patients with HIV infection at an advanced HIV clinic in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Mangana, F; Massaquoi, L D; Moudachirou, R; Harrison, R; Kaluangila, T; Mucinya, G; Ntabugi, N; van Cutsem, G; Burton, R; Isaakidis, P (BMC, 2020-10-07)
    Background: HIV continues to be the main determinant morbidity with high mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a high number of patients being late presenters with advanced HIV. Clinical management of advanced HIV patients is thus complex and requires strict adherence to updated, empirical and simplified guidelines. The current study investigated the impact of the implementation of a new clinical guideline on the management of advanced HIV in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Methods: A retrospective analysis of routine clinical data of advanced HIV patients was conducted for the periods; February 2016 to March 2017, before implementation of new guidelines, and November 2017 to July 2018, after the implementation of new guidelines. Eligible patients were patients with CD4 < 200 cell/μl and presenting with at least 1 of 4 opportunistic infections. Patient files were reviewed by a medical doctor and a committee of 3 other doctors for congruence. Statistical significance was set at 0.05%. Results: Two hundred four and Two hundred thirty-one patients were eligible for inclusion before and after the implementation of new guidelines respectively. Sex and age distributions were similar for both periods, and median CD4 were 36 & 52 cell/μl, before and after the new guidelines implementation, respectively. 40.7% of patients had at least 1 missed/incorrect diagnosis before the new guidelines compared to 30% after new guidelines, p < 0.05. Clinical diagnosis for TB and toxoplasmosis were also much improved after the implementation of new guidelines. In addition, only 63% of patients had CD4 count test results before the new guidelines compared to 99% of patients after new guidelines. Death odds after the implementation of new guidelines were significantly lower than before new guidelines in a multivariate regression model that included patients CD4 count and 10 other covariates, p < 0.05. Conclusions: Simplification and implementation of a new and improved HIV clinical guideline coupled with the installation of laboratory equipment and point of care tests potentially helped reduce incorrect diagnosis and improve clinical outcomes of patients with advanced HIV. Regulating authorities should consider developing simplified versions of guidelines followed by the provision of basic diagnostic equipment to health centers.
  • Offering care for victims of torture among a migrant population in a transit country: a descriptive study in a dedicated clinic from January 2017 to June 2019.

    Keshk, M; Harrison, R; Kizito, W; Psarra, C; Owiti, P; Timire, C; Camacho, MM; De Maio, G; Safwat, H; Matboly, A; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2020-10-06)
    Background: Medecins Sans Frontieres set up a clinic to provide multidisciplinary care to a vulnerable migrant population experiencing torture. We describe the population accessing care, the characteristics of care provided and patient outcomes. Methods: A descriptive retrospective cohort study of patients enrolled in care during January 2017-June 2019 was conducted. Results: Of 2512 victims of torture cases accessing the clinic, the male: female ratio was 1:1. About 67% of patients received medical care, mostly for chronic pain treatment. About 73% of patients received mental healthcare, 37% received physiotherapy and 33% received social support care; 49% came to the clinic upon the recommendation of a friend or family member. The discharge with improvement rate ranged from 23% in the mental health service to 9% in the sociolegal service. Patients retained in care had a median IQR of 3 (2-4) follow-up visits for medical care, 4 (2-7) for mental health, 6 (3-10) for physiotherapy and 2 (1-4) for sociolegal. Conclusion: Care for victims of torture cases among vulnerable migrants is complex. For those who did receive care that led to an improvement in their condition, their care models have been described, to allow its implementation in other non-specialised settings.
  • Lived experiences of palliative care among people living with HIV/AIDS: a qualitative study from Bihar, India.

    Nair, M; Kumar, P; Mahajan, R; Harshana, A; Richardson, K; Moreto-Planas, L; Burza, S (BMJ Publishing Group, 2020-10-05)
    Objectives: This study aimed to assess the lived experiences of palliative care among critically unwell people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), caregivers and relatives of deceased patients. It also aimed to understand the broader palliative care context in Bihar. Design: This was an exploratory, qualitative study which used thematic analysis of semistructured, in-depth interviews as well as a focus group discussion. Setting: All interviews took place in a secondary care hospital in Patna, Bihar which provides holistic care to critically unwell PLHA. Participants: We purposively selected 29 participants: 10 critically unwell PLHA, 5 caregivers of hospitalised patients, 7 relatives of deceased patients who were treated in the secondary care hospital and 7 key informants from community-based organisations. Results: Critically ill PLHA emphasised the need for psychosocial counselling and opportunities for social interaction in the ward, as well as a preference for components of home-based palliative care, even though they were unfamiliar with actual terms such as 'palliative care' and 'end-of-life care'. Critically unwell PLHA generally expressed preference for separate, private inpatient areas for end-of-life care. Relatives of deceased patients stated that witnessing patients' deaths caused trauma for other PLHA. Caregivers and relatives of deceased patients felt there was inadequate time and space for grieving in the hospital. While both critically ill PLHA and relatives wished that poor prognosis be transparently disclosed to family members, many felt it should not be disclosed to the dying patients themselves. Conclusions: Despite expected high inpatient fatality rates, PLHA in Bihar lack access to palliative care services. PLHA receiving end-of-life care in hospitals should have a separate dedicated area, with adequate psychosocial counselling and activities to prevent social isolation. Healthcare providers should make concerted efforts to inquire, understand and adapt their messaging on prognosis and end-of-life care based on patients' preferences.

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